Back to top


Alys Tomlinson grew up in Brighton, UK and studied photography at Central Saint Martins. She recently completed an MA in Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. Her projects are often research-led and she is most interested in the relationship between people and place, exploring themes of environment, belonging and identity.

Her major body of work ‘Ex-Voto’ (2016-2018) explores Christian pilgrimage sites in Lourdes (France), Ballyvourney (Ireland) and Grabarka (Poland). Often placed anonymously and hidden from view, ex-voto are left by pilgrims as expressions of hope and gratitude, creating a tangible narrative between faith, person and the landscape.The project images encompass formal portraiture, large format landscape and small, detailed still-life shots of the objects and markers left behind. Shot on 5×4, large format film, the images evoke a distinct stillness and reflect the mysterious, timeless quality present at these sites of great spiritual contemplation.

“The Sony award changed my life. It gave me a platform for global exposure, accelerating my career for the foreseeable future.”

Gem Fletcher chats to Alys Tomlinson about Ex Voto, the project that was a catalyst for growth, visibility and success for the photographer in last two years. They also discuss the complex subject of industry awards exploring their value and strategies on how to best approach them.

Listen and subscribe to The Messy Truth on itunes, spotify and acast.